Chan: The Biggest Myth in the Church Today on Evangelism
An honest conversation with Francis Chan about the church's problems with evangelism and how to overcome them.
Interview by Brian Orme
We recently caught up with Francis Chan to ask him about his current focus on evangelism and what he’s doing to spread the Gospel in his community.
You’ve been working in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco—going door-to-door in a low-income area. At this point, are you connected with a “home” church?
There is a church associated with the rescue mission. It’s a small church. I’m currently a part of this gathering. We get together Sunday afternoons, and I consider it a church.
We worship, for a few minutes, I teach, very briefly, but then we go out and scatter and minister to people for a couple of hours, then we come back and share stories and worship again and call it a day. So that really is my church body there, and we’re trying to plant a bunch of churches like that—keeping it very missional from the start.
You mentioned it’s kind of a church, but not completely. Do you think there’s a point where you want to make this gathering an official church?
Right now, we have people from different churches visiting. We’re trying to figure out how to make this work. We want people to be able to stay at their local churches, and if you want to do ministry with us, join us on a Sunday afternoon and minister alongside of us. So it’s a little confusing to me, honestly.
On Sunday mornings, we do have a gathering here; we do have a church. I’m not real regular there because I’m speaking in different places. I guess I would call it my home church, but I’m not really there, and yet Sunday afternoons, I can be consistent. And because I teach that same group of people every week, it sure feels like my church, even though some of them come from other places.
So I don’t even know what the next transition is. I know we want to plant other churches. We want the people [who] are getting saved to be plugged in and part of a functioning body, but we want it to look like the Sunday afternoon body where we minister, but we also worship and teach.
It sounds like you’re embracing less structure and keeping it more fluid—would that be accurate to say?
Yeah, this is the closest I’ve felt to a group of people. We’re family. I’d give them the shirt off my back. I care about them like my own children, and we care about each.
And we’re also very missional. That’s why I love them. It’s a partnership. We’re going out, getting the Word out, getting the Gospel out, showing grace and love and the Gospel to a community.
That’s what I want to be priority, so whether or not we stay in the room for an hour and a half, and have a 40-minute sermon and 30 minutes of singing—to me, I don’t see that as priority in Scripture. I don’t see it as wrong, but the priority seems to be the mission and people going out and making disciples and loving one another like a body should and really caring for each other in that way.
So those are the things I do see happening. We don’t have a set building or offering or some of those other things, but to me, I’m trying to start with what I see as priority in Scripture.
You’re going door-to-door in your ministry context. Many would call this “old-school evangelism.” What was your thinking in moving in this direction for outreach in your community?
Everything’s about context. Wherever you are, you need to figure out how to get into the lives of the unbelievers.